Getting started

  • Apart from Jesus, what famous person do you greatly admire? Share.
  • Say something that you appreciate about each person in the group.
  • Last week you were asked to decide on something specific to pray for during the week. What difference has it made?

Something to think about

  • For Jesus, God was never in doubt. But for us God sometimes is in doubt. Is anyone listening? How can I be sure there is anyone there? And if there is, how can I be sure that he/she/it takes any notice of me and my prayers?

The first thing to say is that we should neither be ashamed of our doubts nor run away from them. Only through facing doubts do we come to a more mature, confident, intelligent and relevant faith.

Jesus prayed: “Father, glorify your name”, (John 12:28) NRSV and this could be our prayer as we grapple with these doubts. Glory refers to the wonder, majesty and greatness of God’s presence, while to glorify means to recognise that glory by giving it the honour, respect, obedience, devotion, loyalty and love that is its due.

As this prayer implies, it is God who glorifies his name. It is by the prompting of God’s Spirit that we become aware of God. It is not by our own natural abilities. Yet we can take heart in the words, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

  • Read John 12:20-28

In times of doubt, it is helpful to recall moments when God did seem real and close: when we were lost in the wonder inspired by nature, during times of crisis and need perhaps, in worship, in the company of faithful and committed people, in acts of generosity and love, in relationships, in our reading of the Scriptures and in the person of Jesus himself.

Yet we need to know what to look for when we are looking for God’s presence and activity. If we’re thinking of God in creation we might look for creativity, power, beauty, unity and the feeling of wonder evoked by nature. But if we’re thinking of God in Jesus Christ we might look for love, generosity, reconciliation, renewal, healing, sacrifice and compassion. Remember, God glorified his name in the crucifixion as well as in the birth, life and resurrection of Jesus.

To talk about

  • Have you seen signs of God’s activity recently? Think about that in the light of the preceding paragraphs and share.

The prayer of John 12:28 is very brief, but we can couple with it the long prayer of chapter 17.

  • Read John chapter 17:1-6; 20-26 noting the number of times some form of the word glory or glorify appears

Prayer in the Jesus model seeks to glorify God. Praise is at the very heart of Christ-like prayer. Yet we are always inclined to glorify ourselves instead of God.

  • Read Luke 18:9-14.

To talk about

  • What are some ways in which we try to glorify ourselves in our praying?

It is not only in times of doubt that we can pray, “Father, glorify your name”. This should be our on-going desire. Jesus sought to glorify God with his life, and, if we are to follow him, so should we.

But there is a word of warning to sound here. By concentrating on the reported prayers of Jesus we are looking at the ideal. However our faith and Christian living is less than ideal. We could be tempted to give up or not even try because it seems way out of our reach.

We must not however think that we have to wait until we have got everything right before we pray. If we did that we would never start. Even if we are more selfish in our praying than we should be, God in his grace will lead us into less self-centred praying if we keep listening as well as talking to God.

Something to talk about:

  • From your own experience, tell us what has helped you to focus your prayer on God?
  • Have you found any of these to be helpful: a picture, a cross, a rosary, a Bible reading, something of the natural world, a set prayer, book of prayers, a hymn or chorus, music, concentration on Jesus, the repetition of a mantra, listing your blessings, imagining yourself a child sitting on your Father’s lap, placing an empty chair nearby and talking to God as if he were sitting there, instead of thinking of God ‘out there’ thinking of God within you?

Practise prayer

  • Pray prayers of adoration and praise.
  • Find a psalm whose words you could make your own prayer of praise and pray that psalm out loud.
  • During the coming week try using one of the aids to prayer listed here that you do not usually use.